China’s Alibaba Hires Quantum Computer Scientist Mario Szegedy

Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has hired Hungarian-American computer scientist Mario Szegedy to join DAMO Academy’s quantum computing lab.

Alibaba launched the global research institute DAMO last October, to support the company’s plan to broaden its technological expertise beyond e-commerce. At that time, Alibaba said it plans to invest US$15 billion in foundational and disruptive technology and looks to recruit 100 talented researchers from around the world. The appointment of Szegedy is the first appointment of a prominent computer scientist to DAMO, according to a company announcement.

In his new role, Szegedy will lead research projects for quantum algorithms, especially their applications tied to machine learning and optimization problems. He will be based in the U.S. and report to the director of Alibaba Cloud Quantum Laboratory (AQL), Yaoyun Shi.

Before joining Alibaba, Szegedy was a professor at Rutgers University and former researcher at Bell Labs and AT&T Research, focusing on computational complexity, streaming algorithms and quantum computing. He is also a two-time recipient of the Godel Prize, winning the prestigious computer science award in 2001 and 2005.

Alibaba has been actively building up its quantum computing business and recruiting talents in the past few months. Last October, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) research institute and Aliyun, Alibaba’s cloud computing subsidiary, released a cloud platform for quantum computing. The platform offers users a development and testing environment for cloud-based quantum algorithms.

Last June, quantum computing scientist and professor at the University of Michigan, Yaoyun Shi, also joined Alibaba to head the tech giant’s quantum computing research.

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